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September 2011, Vol. 2 No. 3

The virtues and vices of virtual appliances

Appliances are expanding their presence in today’s data centers. When they first arrived, they took the form of turnkey boxes -- pre-bundled with software -- that VARs plugged into data centers to assume prescribed tasks.  More recently, there’s been a flood of virtual appliances in which VARs or ISVs use tools like VMware Studio or Novell’s SUSE Studio to parse out just the bits and bytes necessary to perform specific jobs. That software bundle can then run on whatever hardware the customer has available.  But in spite their benefits, appliances aren’t for everyone. VARs need to be able to counsel customers on when to opt for virtual appliances. And if that decision is made, they need to help customers determine in what scenarios a virtual appliance is a better fit than a physical appliance.  The question is what, if anything, is the downside to this slick virtual appliance technology? The definitive answer is that it all depends.  It depends on how virtualized your IT shop already is. It depends on how well the virtualization ...

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